After receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, Princeton, the No. 7 ranked women’s hockey team (20—8—5), lost to No. 2 Minnesota (30—5—1) in Minneapolis, 5—2 – a scoreline that does not reflect how close the game really was due to two late empty-net goals by the Golden Gophers. After this game Minnesota beat Cornell 2—0 and then lost to Wisconsin 0—2 in the national championship game.
Princeton kicked off the scoring when first-year forward Sarah Fillier, a second-team All-American and the National Rookie of the Year, teamed up with first-year forward Maggie Connors for a give-and-go that Fillier put in to the net for a 1—0 lead to the Tigers. Minnesota responded with two goals before the end of the first period, bringing them to a 2—1 lead. Fillier, assisted by junior forward Carly Bullock and first-year defender Mariah Keopple, netted Princeton’s second goal and tied the game less than three minutes in to the second period.
The Tigers had the only power-play opportunity early in the third period, but were unable to get anything going. The Golden Gophers were able to net the game-winning goal on play in transition. Princeton late in the third period looked to pull junior goalie Stephanie Neatby to put on an extra attacker, which unfortunately led to two more Minnesota goals on the empty-net to take the score to its final 5—2. Neatby played great in goal making 34 saves on 36 shots including a few spectacular saves.
While this was the end of the Tigers’ season, it was not an unremarkable one in any way. They won the Ivy League title, had a 20-game unbeaten streak, and achieved its highest national ranking in program history. Senior forward co-captain Karlie Lund commented, “I’m really proud of how our team did this season. It’s always hard to end the season on a loss, but our team accomplished so much this year, like having the longest unbeaten streak in program history and winning the Ivies.”
On being able to have spent the last four years at Princeton she added, “I feel really lucky to have played for Princeton these past four years. My teammates have become some of my closest friends, and I will miss seeing them every day. While my hockey career has come to an end, I know I will always be part of the PWIH [Princeton Women’s Ice Hockey] family, and I can’t wait to see what the team will accomplish next year.”
Senior defender and co-captain Stephanie Sucharda added after the game, “The prep work we did to put ourselves in that position, to tie the No. 2 team in the country, says a lot about our program, and, especially moving forward, I think our future is looking really good.”
Though the loss of seniors Kimiko Marinacci, Keiko DeClerck, Lund, and Sucharda will be substantial due to the leadership they bring, there will be plenty to look forward to next season when Princeton gets back on the ice. The Tigers will return their top forward and defensive line, as well as all but two of its double-digit point-scorers. Next season should be an exciting one, so be sure to keep your eye out for their return to Hobey Baker Rink.